How to recycle your rubbish in the Dordogne

Large recycling and rubbish bins
Large recycling and rubbish bins

RECYCLING your rubbish ensures that you leave only footprints when holidaying in the Dordogne, as we all try and reduce our impact on the planet.

The recycling system in the Dordogne uses large coloured containers, but with a twist for non-recyclable rubbish that goes in black bin bags.

The system is overseen by the Syndicat mixte départemental des déchets de la Dordogne (SMD3) and the containers for black bin bags can only be opened by the use of a card the size of a credit card.

This needs to be passed across a reader before the hatch opens allowing you to place your rubbish inside.

Steps for using containers for black bags

1. Press the round silver button

2. Place your card over the reader for at least three seconds

3. If valid you will hear a brief whirring noise, then pull open the rubbish chute

4. Place your rubbish sacks in the chute bucket either 2 X 30 litres or one of 60 litres

5. Close the chute back up ensuring it’s properly shut

The cards are only available to local residents who pay an annual fee, so if you are on holiday double-check with your property owner or management company that they will take away any black bin bags, because without a card you can not open the containers.

And sadly some bins have seen black bags left in front of them, which in the summer can create a smelly problem for the local authorities to deal with.

But you can do something about tidying up recyclable packaging, glass bottles and cardboard boxes that you may use whilst in the Dordogne.

What can you recycle in the yellow bins?

Items that can be placed in yellow recycling bins
Items that can be placed in yellow recycling bins

You will see large containers with yellow panels and flashes on them saying you can recycle emballages et papiers, this is packaging and papers.

So things like plastic bottles and containers, magazines and milk or juice cartons, metal trays, tins and crisp packets, yogurt pots and cheese wrappers, all these can go into the yellow containers.

You are best collecting them up over a few days and then emptying them into the container, but you will have to take them out of larger plastic sacks if that is how you have collected them because bars on the entrance of the bins prevent larger items being pushed through in one go.

What can you recycle in the green bins?

The green containers will take glass bottles and pots, so your beer and wine bottles can go in here.

First though take any plastic or metal lids off and place them in the yellow containers.

What can you recycle in the brown bins?

This is for larger pieces of cardboard for example items ordered for the home off the internet.

Recycling in towns

Many larger villages and towns in the Dordogne have door-to-door collection services for black bag rubbish, but some are trying to phase this out and move to a central location for such waste.

The problem is that many villages and towns are built along narrow roads and passageways and so it is proving difficult to set up the large bins and access for the vehicles that take the rubbish is limited.

Périgueux is facing such problem and has decided not to swap over to the new system, towns such as Bergerac and Sarlat are also considering whether to adopt the new arrangements.

And it is not just an issue of access, it is illegal in France to charge residents different rates for the same service, depending upon if they live in the countryside or a town.

So in Périgueux the authorities have said they can’t have the two systems running in tandem, and charge people two different rates for a rubbish and recycling service.

Those suffering incontinence issues

Homeowners who have medical issues that require them to wear protection due to incontinence can apply to SMD3 for support.

SMD3 have recognised that some users will need to use more than the allotted number of bin openings if they have medical issues.

An application has to be made providing evidence of the purchase of protective items and any requests have to be made on an annual basis.

Using the tip for larger items

If you are on holiday then there is less chance you will need to get rid of larger items, or dangerous or polluting materials such as paints or building rubbish.

But if you are a property owner then these have to be taken to your local tip, or déchèterie, but again you need to prove that you are resident to the area.

This is achieved by requiring residents to use the same card that will open a barrier at the entrance of the déchèteries across the Dordogne, allowing you access and counting your use throughout the year.

Garden waste you don’t want to compost can be taken to the tip, but be aware that there are strict rules on burning garden waste and if you fall foul of them you can be heavily fined.

The déchèteries serving smaller villages are usually only open for a few days through the week, so it will be best to check with the local mairie for the opening times.

Recycling rates in France

France has made significant progress in increasing its recycling rates over the past decade. According to Eurostat, the recycling rate for municipal waste in France was 43.5% in 2018, up from 25% in 2001.

The recycling rate for packaging waste was 77.9% in 2018, which is above the European Union’s target of 70%.

However, there is still room for improvement. The French government has set a target of recycling 100% of plastic waste by 2025, but this goal will require significant investment in recycling infrastructure and public education campaigns.

Overall, the French recycling system has made significant progress in recent years, but there are still challenges to be addressed.

The government will need to continue investing in recycling infrastructure and public education campaigns to achieve its goal of a circular economy.

Categorised as Property

By Craig McGinty

Thank you for reading This French Life, join me in living life the French way.


  1. What a crazy system for black bin bags. They will have many bags left by the side of the bins. They need to come over to Haute Savoie to see how we do it. Julia Stanley.

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